A new study has found that supermarkets don’t do a good job of notifying consumers about foods that have been recalled from their store shelves. According to a USA Today news report, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group surveyed 26 of the largest grocers in the country including Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Target, about their practices for notifying consumers about food recalls. Most stores declined to respond to the survey, the group says in its report titled “Food Recall Failure.”
The group said a few stores answered just a few questions in the survey about how they handle recalls including in-store and direct customer notifications. Researchers set out to check grocers’ websites and store policies and ranked each supermarket chain based on what they found out.
What the Report Found
The report found that a vast majority of the stores, roughly 84%, failed to adequately inform the public about recall notification efforts or even how to sign up for notifications from a store. The only chains to get passing grades were Harris Teeter, Kroger, Smith’s and Target. The report’s authors said this response is not sufficient and that consumers have the right to know about food recalls in order to protect themselves and their families from dangerous pathogens, chunks of metal and unlabeled allergens. More than half of the stores, about 58%, have email or phone notification programs to notify shoppers about food recalls.
However, only eight of the 15 stores that had such programs clearly informed customers about how the system works, what information is included in the warnings and how to participate. No store provided information online about whether recall notices are posted at customer service desks, checkout counters, or on store shelves, researchers say. While grocers may pull recalled products from the shelves, shoppers who have already purchased them are left unaware because the recall system requires either proactive action to find alerts or hearing about a recall through media coverage. This can leave tainted food lying in pantries, refrigerators and freezers for days, weeks or even months after a recall.
Consumers Need Better Information
Just between 2013 and 2019, hazardous meat and poultry recalls increased 85%. Recent recalls across the United States include an E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak that made 167 people sick in 27 states. The Tyson Foods recall involved 12 million pounds of frozen chicken strips for possible metal contamination. Each year, 48 million people suffer from food-borne illnesses nationwide. About 3,000 die and 128,000 are hospitalized due to food-borne illnesses.
If you or a loved one has suffered from food poisoning, you may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California food poisoning attorney will be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.